Home Articles Huzzah! The early (online) bird catches the worm!

Huzzah! The early (online) bird catches the worm!


A lesson many of us learned in childhood and may have forgotten is being recalled for the Internet era. It’s the early online bird that catches the worm!

That is the finding PayPal is announcing for the benefit of the SMBs in Australia. The 2012 Driving Business Online study, run by Roy Morgan Research on behalf of the online payments processer, found that companies that went online earlier benefited the most – not just in online growth, but also offline, reflecting the synergies with traditional brick-and-mortar business.

Over the past year, businesses that already had online sales grew 5% but those that didn’t – or didn’t for at least 12 months – saw revenues decline 4%. Also, nearly one out of two (49%) businesses that sold online for at least a year saw higher revenues whereas that was true for only one out of three (36%) businesses that didn’t engage in e-commerce.

“These results confirm that the global transition to online retail has been a significant challenge for many local businesses. However, we know retailers here must keep pace with changing global market trends as future growth in the sector will unequivocally come from digital channels,” said Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman.

“Establishing an Internet presence is an increasingly critical first step; it at the very least provides a significant opportunity to supplement their business with an additional sales and marketing channel,” he added.

Take Bob Knuckey, founder of NSW-based start-up MoistureCure.com.au. Over the past year, his firm’s revenues rose 40%, as he added 20 new products to his company’s website.

“Businesses can no longer put their heads in the sand when it comes to setting themselves up online. Our Moisture Cure business is proof that embracing new technologies really can make a huge difference,” said Knuckey.

Lot of catching up to do

The Roy Morgan study, which surveyed 200 SMBs, also revealed a low penetration of e-commerce among Australia’s SMBs – just about a third. The number backs recent Australia Bureau of Statistics data that 57% of the businesses have no online presence, and nearly three out of four (72%) do not take orders via the Internet.

That is a reason PayPal’s Australian unit is pushing the Driving Business Online initiative, founded as a national educational initiative with the support of many local partners. After last year’s launch at Parliament House in Canberra, the 2012 DBO was launched at the Park Royal Hotel in Parramatta NSW.

“Local retailers are an important fixture in Australia’s communities, but they must engage and embrace technology and connect with the new national and global consumer audience,” said Jeff Clementz, managing director of PayPal Australia. “Driving Business Online proactively provides our local SMBs with the tools and guidance to link their business with the online world.”

Australia’s online retail market is estimated to be worth $31.7 billion this year whereas the broader retail market is worth about $240 billion.